ATLANTA, Ga. (AStateRedWolves.com) – The Arkansas State women's basketball team picked up a key Sun Belt Conference road victory with a 80-75 win at Georgia State Saturday afternoon at the GSU Sports Arena.
Jane Morrill led four A-State players in double figures with a game-high 22 points, while Hanna Qedan scored points on 4-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc. Jalen O'Bannon recorded the fourth double-double of her career with 11 points and 11 rebounds and Aundrea Gamble finished with 11 points on the afternoon.
The win moves the Red Wolves' overall record to 15-8 and 9-2 in SBC play and gives the squad 1.5 game lead in the SBC standings over Texas State. Georgia State fell to 10-12 overall and 6-4 in league play and is now in third place in the SBC standings.
"We did a lot of good things throughout the course of this game," A-State head coach Brian Boyer said. "I loved our toughness in the second half to not only build the lead but to be able to fight off a very good Georgia State team. I never thought that we go too rattled throughout the course of the game and we played really well at there at the end."
A-State led 35-33 at halftime and never trailed in the second half but never led by more than 10 points in the final 20 minutes. The score was tied 45-45 with 14:50 remaining in the game, but Jalen O'Bannon scored a layup on the Red Wolves next possession to give the squad a lead it would not relinquish.
Jamie Ruffins provided a jolt of momentum when she saved a pass from going out of bounds and then collected the loose ball, scored a layup and was fouled on the play. She hit the layup to put A-State up 55-46 with 12:30 to go in the game. Morrill pushed the lead to 60-50 after she finished an and-1 play with 9:46 to play as part of a big second half effort for the senior in the second half.
The Scott City, Mo., native scored 17 of her 22 points in the second half while also dishing out three assists, collecting two rebounds and swiping one pass. She finished 8-of-12 from the field and 5-of-6 from free throw line. Arkansas State also moved to 4-0 on the year in games in which Morrill scores at least 20 points.
The Panthers cut the lead to 70-67 with 2:47 to go after Ashlee Cole hit a 3-pointer, but Morrill responded with back-to-back buckets to push the lead to seven points (74-67) with 1:26 to go. Georgia State cut the deficit to 78-75 with 43 seconds to go, but Ruffins and O'Bannon combined to go 2-of-4 from free throw to seal the victory.
"There was never a huge run in the second half and we just kept battling and battling with them," Boyer said. "We just kept hanging in there with four and six point leads and we were able to knock down some key free throws at the end of the game."
Qedan was spectacular in the first half, scoring 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting from beyond the arch. She also knocked down a free throw and grabbed a rebound to fill out her stat line in the first half. She started the game by knocking down three straight 3-pointers, providing all of the Red Wolves' offense earlier on.
Gamble aided in the scoring after Qedan's hot start, but the rest of the team struggled. With 11:24 to go in the first half, the Red Wolves trailed 17-14 with Qedan and Gamble combining to score all of the points for Arkansas State.
Qedan sparked a 10-2 run for the Red Wolves when she hit her fourth 3-pointer of the first half at the 9:52 mark as A-State expanded its lead to 26-21 after a Morrill jumper with 5:38 to go in the half. Georgia State went on a 10-2 run of its own to take a 31-28 lead but the Red Wolves finished the half strong.
Gamble tied the game with a mid-range jumper with 43 seconds to go in the half and then O'Bannon finished a fast break point on a great feed from Gamble to give Arkansas State a 35-33 lead going into the break.
The Red Wolves shot 43.1 percent (25-of-58) and 69.4 percent (25-of-36) from the foul line. Each team finished with 38 rebounds, but A-State held a 27-24 edge on the defensive glass.
Arkansas State will return to the road for a matchup with South Alabama on Wednesday, Feb. 12, at 11:30 a.m. For in-game updates follow @AStateGameDay on Twitter and stay up to date with A-State women's basketball team by following them on Twitter (@AStateWB), Instagram (AStateWBB) and Facebook (Facebook.com/RedWolvesWBB).